A Trump appointment to worry Jews, others: 11-16-16
November 16, 2016
The aftershocks of the presidential election continue, and it looks as if we're in for some serious whiplash as President-elect Donald Trump moves toward taking power in January.
I've been among those urging people to be calm and to give Trump a chance. I still think that's the right approach, and so does my pastor, the Rev. Dr. Paul T. Rock, who had this to say to our congregation this past Sunday (I was out of town, but listened later online).
On yesterday's blog post, in fact, I found something for which to praise Trump.
But what are we to do when we find the president-elect making a choice we find abhorrent and divisive? I think we find civil ways to object, without using the kind of over-the-top language employed by some of the radio and TV talk show hosts and some of the wingnut bloggers.
For instance, I think Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon (pictured here) as a top adviser and "senior strategist" is terrible. And so do many people in the Jewish community, given Bannon's record of antisemitism.
As The Forward story to which I just linked you reports, "Bannon transformed Breitbart News, which was founded by ultra-conservative Jewish journalist Andrew Breitbart, from a fringe site into a high-traffic haven for conspiracy theorists many. . .with neo-Nazi or white supremacist ties."
In some ways this is a surprising appointment, given that Trump had a core of Jewish supporters and has Jews in his extended family. It's hard to imagine an appointment that would say more clearly to the whole country that this presidency will not have at its core respect for people of all religious traditions.
If the appointment of Bannon stands, it will be necessary for Jewish and human relations advocacy groups to monitor him closely and to raise any concerns publicly, civilly and quickly. Is it possible Bannon will change his repugnant views once he's on the White House staff? Maybe. Stranger things have happened, including the ways in which George Wallace eventually abandoned many of his racist views.
But this appointment will call for vigilance by people who care about religious freedom and freedom from bigotry.
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HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL THEN AND NOW
Harvard Divinity School is celebrating its 200th anniversary. So for some historical perspective on how things have changed, the Harvard Gazette did this interview with the current dean. The school today prepares not just Christians. Rather, it's attended by people from dozens of faith traditions. This is the new look of America in many ways, and it's a look the new Trump administration and its leaders would do well to acknowledge and respond to with something other than the kind of hostility we've seen from Steve Bannon.